Gels, toothpastes, strips, mouthwashes, UV lights…the list of whitening products goes on and on. So what can you trust to get – and keep – your teeth white?
Your teeth are like sponges…they absorb what you put in your mouth. Berries, wine, coffee, tea and smoking are big offenders for stains but other less aggressive and destructive foods stain teeth, too. Unless you do something to “lift” these stains out, they will get darker and darker over time.
Here are some things to know – and ask your dentist about – before you decide to whiten:
1. Whitening your teeth does not cause damage…if done by a professional.
As with anything, abuse of any kind can be damaging. Whitening is done by opening the pores in your teeth and lifting the stains. This process causes your teeth to be dehydrated and demineralized. A dental pro can restore, nourish and replenish this “damage” once the whitening process if complete
2. It’s all in the delivery
Although most whitening products use similar ingredients to whiten teeth, the way the product is held on the tooth’s surface makes a big difference in the process outcome. Custom fitted trays ensures there is even coverage of the whitening gel on every tooth, unlike whitening strips which have a hard time reaching into the creviced areas that teeth surfaces produce when they aren’t perfectly straight.
3. You’re a sensitive kinda person
More than half of the population have naturally sensitive teeth.
The temporary dehydration that occurs when whitening reduces the ability to insulate the tooth’s nerve. Sensitivity may occur when whitening but should be over in 12-36 hours.
4. So many choices
Should you use a whitening toothpaste, trays, UV treatments, oil pulling?…there are SO many processes and treatments that claim to whiten teeth. The difference is this: many might provide temporary or minimal whitening…while others are designed to keep teeth white. You have a goal – make sure to match it with the product or whitening treatment you use.
5 Show me the light
UV light whitening works to accelerate the whitening gel faster. This is the only process currently FDA regulated and can be done only under a dentist’s supervision. The issue here is although it whitens quickly and effectively – the “whiteness” must be maintained.
Advertised Blue LEDs do little if nothing to promote whitening.
6. It all takes time
No product on the market can whiten teeth immediately. Patients that have years of staining must be patient and persistent, but once the stains are gone you should be able to easily maintain your new, bright smile.
7. It’s best to sleep on it
Your teeth are most susceptible to staining right after they’ve been whitened. Many believe whitening right before bed helps to reduce the opportunity for retaining. Plus it give you 8 hours for teeth to rehydrate and remineralize.
8. To top it off
Know this: caps and veneers are designed to match the color of the surrounding teeth…and their materials cannot be whitened.
As always, when you have a question that relates to your smile – ASK YOUR DENTIST…they will not tell you a little white lie about what’s right for you!